This is most likely my favorite of the 100-themes series so far. Ah, but I do owe an explanation as to why I'm posting the stories this way.
The reason I'm posting them all separately is because I don't intend to write them all within a month. I'm hoping to finish the challenge by September (before my senior year at high-school starts). I wanted to gain more advertisement for SouNao, but I didn't want to have one story with 100 chapters either... I'd get annoyed with it--as I already have Downward Spiral that I'm working on as a multi-chapter and there is also the fact that none of these stories are directly related to each other and putting them in an order what would work for a chapter story would end up annoying me.
In any case, I won't take-up the entire from page of the MegaTen area. I'll wait until at least two other stories are posted before adding more of my own.
Enjoy the third of the 100 themes challenge.
Edit: I've edited some--rather embarrassing--typos I noticed in the story and posted the new version.
Naoto pulled the letter from her bag for the sixty-third time that day. She'd been counting, silently scolding herself each time she pulled it out. She would turn the envelope over in her hands several times before glancing at the trashcan, strongly considering the idea of listening to the voice in the back of her mind screaming for her to throw it out. But each time her self-restraint would stop her, reassuring her that what she was doing was perfectly normal, and that she had no reason to be as nervous as she was.
The final bell rang and Naoto found herself unable to stand up, her legs suddenly no longer wanting to support her weight as her heart pounded in her chest. W-why am I so worried? I-it's not like he doesn't already know. I-I told him my true feelings yesterday, so why-?
"Hey, Naoto-kun! The bell rang, didn't you hear it? Why are you still sitting at your desk? I thought you said you had something important to do after—" Rise's voice stopped as she idol noticed the letter clutched tightly in the sleuth's hands, watching as the other's knuckles slowly started to turn white. A letter?
She stepped forward, placing a hand on Naoto's shoulder, nearly jerking backward as the detective jumped violently, her wide eyes darting around the room and looking for the source of disturbance.
"I—Rise-san. I-I apologize. I… must have gotten lost in my own thoughts. I—did you need something? I don't have time to hang out today. I need to…" she trailed off, glancing at the letter in her hands with a calculating look, suddenly feeling nervous again. I'm… not sure if I can do this.
Naoto suddenly felt sick, her stomach turning violently as she tried to imagine the reaction to the letter.
There were only three ways this could go. The first involved the letter being read and she'd end up very embarrassed, or the second, in which the letter would be ignored completely and she'd end up hurt. Then there was the third option, in which it would be read, then thrown away and she'd end up not only very embarrassed, but hurt as well. None of the options seemed very appealing to her… save for the one which involved her throwing it away before anyone could read it.
"Hey, Naoto-kun, who's the letter from? Another admirer, or something? Don't they know you have a boyfriend?"
"I—huh? W-wait! Rise-san, I—no. The letter is—"
"Ooo!" Rise giggled, snatching the letter from the sleuth's hands. "It's for Senpai!"
"R-Rise-san! Return the letter at once. I—"
"Did you write it for him? That's soooo cute! Is this what was so important? You're going to give it to him, right?"
"N-no!" By this time Naoto's face was redder then Yukiko's sweater, earning another giggle from Rise. "Rise-san, this isn't the time for games. Return the letter to me this instant. I'm going to go home and feed it to the shredder."
"Huh? What? You can't do that! Not after you went through all the trouble of writing it!" The idol danced out of Naoto's grasp, dangling the letter in the air, just out of the shorter girl's reach. "We gotta go deliver it to him! Oh! I'm sure he'd just love a love letter from you!"
"Rise Kujikawa! If you don't return the letter I'll—"
"Love letter!" Rise cooed loudly. "Love letter! Lovey-dovey-dovey-dovey, love letter!"
"S-silence! This game of yours is childish and immature. Now give me my—"
"No way! If I give it back, you're going to throw it away and Senpai won't be able to read it."
"That is the idea, yes. Now, if you would be so kind and mature as to return it, we can both be on our—"
"Senpaaaaaaai!" Rise shouted, turning around, making a dive for the classroom door. "Senpai! Guess what I haaaaaaave!"
"Wh-what!? Rise-san! No!" Dropping her bag to the ground, Naoto darted around the desks, running after Rise, not caring that every student in the hallway was staring at them. "Rise-san! Stop! I'm not going to play this game with you! Give me back my-!"
A door opened ahead of the two running girls and Kanji stepped out, jumping backwards as Rise flew past him, laughing madly.
"Kanji-kun! Don't let Naoto-kun follow me! I have to deliver this! It's for the sake of love!"
"H-huh? What? Rise? What—huh? H-hold on, I-!"
"JUST DO IT!" the idol yelled and disappeared up the stairs, her footsteps echoing in the empty staircase.
"Uh…" Kanji stepped out of the classroom again just as Naoto tried to pass, nearly getting himself flattened as the sleuth plowed into him, unable to stop herself in time. "W-whoa! Shit! What the-!? N-Naoto? You—What's going on? Rise just ran past and she said—H-hey!"
The school-proclaimed 'punk' grabbed the detective's arm as she tried to wriggle past him, glaring murderously as she was held back.
"Kanji-kun! Let me go, now! I am working with the police, and this is considered assaulting an officer of the—"
"Stop shouting! Geez! Calm down and then I'll let you go! I just want to know what the hell is going on! What's Rise done that's making you freak out? She take something important of yours?"
"As a matter of fact, she did... and if you don't release me, it's going to end up in the hands of the last person I want to see it."
"Huh? She gonna give Senpai your diary or somethin'? Did you write something bad about him? Or maybe like… An embarrassing photo? Come on, Naoto. Rise ain't like that. I bet she's waiting at the top of the stairs for you to—"
"I don't have a diary," Naoto growled. "And it's not a simple picture. If it were only a picture, I wouldn't be this upset! It's a letter!"
"What, you write it or somethin'?"
"Of course I wrote it! Why else would I be so—Nevermind. This is hardly your business. Now if you'd just release me, I can get it back before---"
"There you are, Senpai!" Rise's voice drifted down the stairs, causing Naoto's cheeks to turn pale. "Guess what! I have a letter for you! A loooove letter from Naoto-kun!"
Kanji's jaw dropped as the remaining color drained from the sleuth's face, his hand going slack as he stared at the stairs, unable to muster a single word. He shook his head rapidly, dropping Naoto's wrist as he pushed her towards the stairs, looking as if he expected Naoto to turn around and take him out with her revolver.
"U-uh… I-I just remember that um… I was… supposed to help Ma with um… something. Yeah! So uh… I-I'll just be… Uh… L-later!" Although he knew he was stronger than Naoto—at least physically—Kanji Tatsumi knew better than to stick around and aggravate an already very upset woman. Testing his luck with a woman like Naoto—whom he was very sure rarely ever missed a target in her life—didn't seem like a wise idea.
Upstairs, Souji tried to calm down an energetic Rise. The idol was jumping on the balls of her feet and waving an envelope in his face.
"You have to read it, Senpai! She spent so much time writing it… It would shatter her if you didn't."
Souji raised an eyebrow, watching the letter's movement from left to right, nearly going cross-eyed as Rise's hand began to move faster.
"If it was Naoto who wrote it, and Naoto who wants me to read it… Then why isn't Naoto the one delivering it to me?"
"Who cares about that?!" Rise growled in frustration, shoving the letter into Souji's hands. "Just hurry up and read it!"
"Rise… Please, stop shouting…" Souji sighed, turning the envelope over in his hands. "I'll read it, just calm down."
The silverette started to peel the flap of the envelope back, pausing to look up suspiciously.
"What?" Rise asked innocently, clasping her hands together behind her back. "Do you need a letter opener?"
"Rise. I want an honest answer. Did Naoto really write this and does she really want me to read it?"
"Of course she did!" Rise growled impatiently, taking the letter from Souji and opening it herself, unfolding the paper inside before shoving it back into Souji's hands. "Geez, boys are so clueless when it comes to this stuff. If a girl writes a love letter, of course she wants him to read it! It's a lot easier to say what you want to on paper than looking them in the eye! Obviously she has something she needs to tell you but—Senpai? What is it?"
Rise blinked, watching as Souji's exterior changed completely as he read the letter. A light pink dusted his cheeks, a small smile gracing his lips as he glanced up, the warm look in his eyes making Rise blush heavily—having no idea what the letter actually said.
"Senpai? What did she—"
"Oh shoot!" Rise turned, eyes widening as Naoto walked briskly down the hall, looking ready to break into a sprint and dive at the idol at the drop of a pin.
"Rise-san! This is your last warning! If you don't return the letter I'll—" The sleuth came to a dead-halt in front of Souji, eyes darting between the open envelope in his hand, Rise and the letter in his other hand. "Wh-wh…"
The detective's face turned a dark shade of crimson as she tried to speak, bowing her head when no words would form, pulling down the visor of her cap.
"Um… I think I'm going to um… go back downstairs. Ehehe… b-bye!" Taking what was likely the only chance she had, the idol slipped around Souji and disappeared around the corner as she sprinted for the staircase.
"I-it's nothing," Naoto muttered. "Y-you can just throw it away. I-I was tired when I wrote it. I… I'm hardly sure what it is I was trying to say. Rather, I—No, nevermind. J-just… please don't laugh at it. I don't care if you think its childish, but please, just don't tell anyone about—"
"I love you, Naoto."
"H-huh?" A hand cupped Naoto's chin, forcing her to look up and causing her already red cheeks to double in color. "S-Senpai? I-I…"
"I didn't think it was childish. At all. It was… very sweet. Sincere…" Souji chuckled, "…And it sounded so much like you."
"W-what does that—" Naoto's words were cut off as lips pressed against hers, causing the argument she'd thought of to slip from her mind. The fact that they were in school didn't matter—not at that moment. It was too perfect to pass up, and despite the raging butterflies that swarmed her stomach whenever Souji was near, she felt herself not caring if they were at the school or even in Souji's own room. All that matter right now was him.
A slender hand rose, cupping Souji's cheek as she hesitantly pressed herself closer to Souji's chest, allowing his arms to wrap around her waist as the letter slipping from his fingers, falling to the floor where it lay forgotten for the next few minutes.
I realize that writing this letter must seem almost pointless, as yesterday I already told you of my true feelings, but it had gotten late before I was able to gather the courage to tell you and we weren't given much time to speak after that. There were several things that I felt I needed to say, but each time I tried to speak, you would look at me and the words died before I could say them and I ended up getting "lost in the moment", as I believe the term is called.
I must seem like a hypocrite to you, after having told you that I hated letters like this and that I'd fed countless letters from others to the shredder, but I feel this is the only way—at least for right now—that I'll be able to be completely honest with you without fear of saying something I regret or freezing up before I can finish.
When you first told me that you loved me… I didn't know what to think, or how to handle it. You knew that—more than anything—I hated people saying that to me. I hated when people would claim to love me before knowing me… I had told you that I believed you couldn't love someone without first getting to know them, and it was as you stood at the shrine with me and spoke the words… I realized that I couldn't use that excuse with you…
I couldn't brush your feelings off as 'just words', because you did know me. You'd taken the time and spent countless hours with me after school, slowly growing closer to me and allowing me closer to you. After spending almost ten years taking care of myself and depending only on my Grampa and Yakushiji-san when—if—I needed something… having no one to confide in… To know that in less than a month that you'd worked your way so far under my skin… it scared me.
I'd told myself countless times that I didn't need anyone, that I didn't mind being alone, because it was all I'd known… yet I was still lying to myself. Even after you saw the very worst of me in my Shadow, you still looked at me with such kind eyes. You didn't look at just part of me… You looked at all of me. The detective, the child, and the woman. For the first time in my life, I truly valued being a girl, but I still ran in fear and left you alone.
"I wanted a reason to stay." My Shadow—my true self—spoke those words, and they were more true than I wanted to admit. I did want a reason to stay—I wanted a reason to stay with you. You have become precious to me—the most important person in my world. You have become my world.
I feel so helpless, admitting all this now. I've became far too dependent on you. I've always valued my independence, by ability to stand on my own two feet, but now that I have you… I wish to hold on and never let go… and knowing that I think that way… it scares me as well. I can't allow myself to become dependent on you… but I also want to be able to depend on you, when I need someone most… and I want you to be able to depend on me.
I want to be able to admit my feelings for you without regret or fear of suddenly losing you. Despite the fact that I know you'll be leaving in the spring… I know that won't be the end of things. You'll only be a train-ride away and we can always visit each other on holidays as well.
"Love." I never believed in the meaning of the word, but I'll do whatever it takes to make it real. To believe in it again… As long as it's you who shows me how.
I love you, Senpai—Souji Seta. My feelings—my heart and soul, they're yours. Completely and unconditionally.